If you’re looking for a small form factor, Media Center PC for your living room, or if you just prefer your PC’s small and discrete, the chances are you’re looking at a Shuttle. If that is the case then this, the latest one to come from the king of barebones, may grab your attention.
The SG33G5M is built upon the G33 chipset from Intel, featuring support for everything from a Core 2 Quad to a 400 series Celeron with up to a 1333MHz FSB. This can be backed up by as much as 4GB of 800MHz RAM. As is pretty usual with Shuttle one x16 PCI-E and one PCI slot are featured, limiting your options if you wish to use a dual-slot graphics card as you wont be able to add in, say, a TV tuner. Eight-channel HD audio is also included and there is an optical-out port for connecting to your surround-sound system. All of this runs off a 250W power supply, which could restrict the addition of hardware - not that you're likely to be installing high-end, power hungry components in a Media Center box though.
Finally, adding greatly to the SG33G5M’s HTPC pretensions is the inclusion of an HDCP compliant HDMI port which will allow you to connect the Shuttle to your HDTV without having to purchase a discrete graphics card solution. The system can be controlled by a bundled infra-red Media Center remote, which is always useful. Also of some interest is a VFD hidden behind the translucent front panel which will pull media player data such as track name, time remaining and so forth so you can see it without turning on your monitor (or TV). Obviously this is going to be more useful for playing music than movies. While I would question the usefulness of such a feature, I do think it looks rather swanky.
Available “shortly” the SG33G5M has an RRP of €328 without tax which would put it at about £260 inclusive of VAT in the UK.